Big Over Easy

The Big Over Easy

by Jasper Fforde

I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book, The Big Over Easy by Jasper FForde.

When you sit down with a book by an author that’s new to you, it’s a little like going on a first date. Your expectations are high, and you’re really hoping it’s going to work out. Sometimes you know in the first couple of pages that you just don’t have enough in common — I only made it through a chapter or so of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections — but sometimes you get lucky — as it were — and you form a life long relationship. When I was a girl Judy Bloom was my sophisticated older sister. I had a years-long affair with Steven King; he was slightly dangerous at first, then got sort of predictable.  We had a rough patch — I’m looking at you, The Tommyknockers — but have recently gotten back together, and with The Dark Tower, all is forgiven. I had to break up with Anne Rice not long after Taltos although I’m sure she and Lestat doing fine without me. And then I started reading Jasper FForde, and I knew I had met my eccentric British uncle.

He’s created a world that is just slightly different from our own. In Jack Spratt investigates The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crimes Novel,   Jack and his team investigate the death of Humperdink Jehosephat Aloysius Stuuyvestant Van Dumpty — Humpty Dumpty. Ladies man, criminal, philanthropist. He had a great fall all right, but was he pushed? Jack and the members of the nursery crimes division are on the verge of getting disbanded — the Three Little Pigs got off on the death of the Big Bad Wolf without even a slap on the wrist. And their cases never seem to wind up in Amazing Crime Stories. It becomes clear that police work without dramatic confessions, brilliant and convoluted deduction, and lots of neat closure just doesn’t pull in the readers. Plain old police work is well, dull.  Jack also faces pressure from his arch enemy, star detective Freidland Chymes, who never lets the facts get in the way of a good press conference, and wants the Humpty case for himself.  Jack just doesn’t seem to have the panache to get in the papers — he isn’t an alcoholic, doesn’t drive a restored Rolls Royce, and has a decidedly unshady home life a perfectly nice wife and a bunch of kids. He does have a problem with giants, although technically he only killed one — the other three were just very tall.

So you can see the direction this book is going in. Normally, I avoid anything that might be described as whimsical like a cute fluffy plague. But the matter-of-factness of D.I. Spratt and his new partner, Sgt. Mary Mary — their very ordinariness when dealing with talking pigs, and clues like a 28-foot long human hair at the crime scene — particularly when compared to the pompous and loathsome Det. Chymes, completely won me over. The last thing that made me love this book was the CSI-style autopsy drawing of Humpty’s shattered remains — complete with tattoos and scars — on the back cover. Fforde’s next book in the Nursey Crimes series will be The Fourth Bear, and we get a clue at the end of this book that it will have something to do with the Talking Animals Relocation Authority. Something tells me they won’t all go peacefully.

I’m Kim Alexander and the book was The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde, on Fiction Nation

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